Speaking the target language outside the classroom in friendship groups: : a comparative study of international and local modern foreign language students with a focus on employability
Foreign language students at university in the UK, both international and local, do not appear to practise the target language much outside class nor form international friendships that would be positive for their learning, socialising and future employability. This article aims to firstly find out how much time such students spend speaking the target language outside class and consider why they infrequently intermingle to practise their language skills. It aims secondly to understand what helps and what hinders speaking and finally to relate their speaking habits to attitudes regarding employability. A learning behaviour questionnaire circulated as a pilot study at the University of Hertfordshire revealed that in both groups of students the respondents did not socialise very much outside class to speak the foreign language, felt shy about speaking it, lacked vocabulary or did not have enough time or opportunities. International students rated consideration of future employment possibilities relating to language practice and intercultural relationships as generally less important than local foreign language students. Suggestions show ways for tutors to encourage opportunities for multinational conversation outside the classroom.